Niagara, Erie Clerks Both Oppose Issuing Licenses to Illegals

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Niagara County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski (left) and Erie County Clerk Michael “Mickey” Kearns (right).


By: Tony Farina

Niagara County Clerk Joe Jastrzemski and Erie County Clerk Michael “Mickey” Kearns are in charge of issuing driver’s licenses in their counties and as things stand right now, neither of the clerks intends to issue licenses to illegal immigrants as required under the state’s newly approved Green Light Law.

But the clerks are taking different paths to challenging the controversial law, with Jastrzemski pushing a suit against the state on potential voter fraud and Kearns taking his argument to federal court on grounds the new law is unconstitutional “and puts us in a no-win situation,” potentially in violation of federal law or violating state law.

“It exposes county clerks,” says Kearns regarding the 52 clerks  in the state who would be required to issue the licenses to illegals under the law saying it is against federal immigration law to conceal someone who is here illegally.

“I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t,” says Jastrzemski who, like Kearns and other clerks, could be fired by the governor for not honoring state law.   

Kearns, who served in the State Assembly for five years before winning a special election for county clerk in 2017, built a reputation as a lawmaker who would fight the political establishment, namely then-Speaker Sheldon Silver which didn’t win him an favors from the Assembly leadership., or even an office.  But that political grit may be helping him now as he takes on what he believes is an unconstitutional law approved by state lawmakers and signed by the governor.

Kearns views his challenge of the Green Light Law as an opportunity to stand up for the people and be a voice for them and now he has become the first state official to go to court to challenge issuing driver’s licenses to illegals.

Jastrzemski is the driving force behind a Niagara County resolution expected to be approved this week calling on the county “to investigate, engage counsel, and commence any and all litigation to enjoin implementation enforcement of the Green Light Law.”

The Niagara County resolution refers to comments during debate on the Green Light Law legislation where an assemblyman cited a number of examples from the Suffolk County Board of Elections of cases where individuals with DMV numbers who are not citizens have actually registered to voted with that number and actually did vote.

Jastrzemski is concerned the Green Light Law could open the door to illegal voting by non-United States citizens in the state and Niagara County.

“There is no safeguard against voter fraud,” says Jastrzemski, and that’s the reason he is supportive of the resolution to guard against any voting by non-citizens of the United States by county election officials.  

Kearns’ arguments for a federal injunction are scheduled Sept. 25 before U. S. District Court Judge Elizabethe Wolford in Buffalo.  Many legal experts believe the case could eventually move all the way up  to the U. S. Supreme Court, although experts caution it is one step at a time process, and sometimes legal fights drag on for a very long time.   In this case, the Erie County attorney’s office will make the arguments on behalf of Kearns udner County Attorney Michael Siragusa.

Neither Kearns nor Jastrzemski have spoken of any opposition to legal immigration and have confined their arguments to the difficult position they find themselves in as a result of a law that puts them in a damned if I do and damned if I don’t position, violating state law on one hand and a potential violation of the U. S. Constitution on the other side.  The fight has begun.


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